My name is Ryan McDonagh and I have been an addict for about 2 days now. I can’t eat, I can’t focus, and I can’t sleep at night without thinking about when I can get my next hit. When I do manage to get some sleep, I can see it. The long and winding road in front of me. Relentlessly I roll along it, twisting and turning, trying to stay on it until I inevitably fall off into the void below. Then it begins all over again.
I am of course talking about Impossible Road by Kevin Ng for iOS. You control a small white ball and can move it left and right. Your task is to try to stay on the randomly generated road for as long as possible. This is no easy task as the road in front of you is littered with bumps and sharp turns. Keeping control of your ball is – as the name suggests – almost impossible. You will fall off often. Luckily falling off of the track does not spell the end. If you can manage to navigate back on to the track below, you can carry on as nothing happened. Take too long though and you will have to start over.
At regular intervals checkpoints pop up. Passing through a checkpoint adds a small amount of points to your total score. The longer you can go, the more points you rack up. This is where Impossible Road will become an obsession for some. Game Center integration allows players from all over the world to come together and prove just how good they are at rolling a ball down a track. The highest (legitimate) score on the leaderboard at the moment is 278 points. You will think to yourself “I can do better than that”. Only, if you are anything like me, you probably can’t. That won’t stop you from trying though!
As simple as the core game mechanics, the visuals in Impossible Road are best described as “minimalist”. That is not to say that they are ugly; they are exactly the opposite – stylish even. Blue and white make up the entirety of the colour palette. This works in Impossible Roads’ favour, but also slightly against it. While the game is undeniably pretty, it can often be hard to distinguish the ball from the background or the void below it. Giving the ball a clearer outline would solve this problem.
Accompanying the unique visual style is a basic, but heart-pumping electronic soundtrack. The rhythmic pulse of the bass is exhilarating. Rolling along with the beat hammering each eardrum enhances the experience and makes it a little richer. A quality pair of headphones or earphones are a necessity to fully immerse yourself.
Due to the basic nature of the game there are very few criticisms to mention. The most irritating flaw is just how random track generation can be. Some tracks can be more forgiving than others, giving you plenty of opportunities to land back on solid ground if you fall off. Other times you will have no such luck. It’s a very minor annoyance in an otherwise complete little package.
As intelligible a premise as Tetris and just as addictive, Impossible Road has the “one more go” factor that will have you playing for hours on end. With attractive visuals and a stellar soundtrack it is a delight for both the eyes and ears. While it may feel a little unfair at times (even by its’ own standards), that won’t stop you from obsessively playing it over and over again. The restless among you may want to give it a miss for your iDevices sake. I’ll see those of you who can handle its’ brutal difficulty next week at support group.